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News roundup: A turtle's best friend

By Philip Anselmo

From the Daily News (Thursday):

  • Let me kick things off here today by saying: Thank goodness for Tom Rivers. His quirky column on today's editorial page is more than worth the 50 cents I paid for the paper. Today, Tom muses on the thankless, not entirely sane, activity of saving our sluggish distant cousins the turtles when they try to cross a busy highway. When Tom busts up his foot trying to save a snapping turtle, he writes: "It's comparable to the professional baseball player who goes on the disabled list for sneezing too hard." Gems like this abound, and I encourage folks to check out the column for themselves. Hope the foot gets better soon, Tom!
  • The Genesee County Legislature approved some boundary changes last night for an Empire Zone that encompasses the proposed Genesee Valley Agri-business Park near the county fairgrounds. About 100 acres were added to the zone and about 40 removed. Empire Zones are geographic designations intended to attract business by providing  tax breaks and decreased utility costs if the business settles within the zone.
  • Reporter Scott DeSmit takes a look at how ever-increasing fuel costs are taking a toll on police departments that rely on a fleet of autos to get around. No surprise, they, too, are hard hit.
  • Outgoing Batavia City School Superintendent Richard Stutzman was named honorary inductee at the Middle School's Honor Society ceremony yesterday. Some words of advice from the soon-to-be retiree: "There's no room for underachieving. You have to be prepared so that, no matter what happens, you have the skills and the work ethic to carry you through."
  • Batavia's Board of Education will meet at 7:00pm Monday at the Administration Building, 39 Washington Ave. The Board will begin with an executive session and hopes to get started with the public meeting about an hour later.
  • Batavia's Present Tense bookstore at 101 Washington Ave. will host author Christine Smyczynski Saturday from 1:00 to 3:00pm for a book signing. Smyczynski is the author of Western New York, An Explorer's Guide: From Niagara Falls and Southern Ontario to the Western Edge of the Finger Lakes Region. Call (585) 815-7640 for more information. Or visit the bookstore's Web site.
  • Batavia Musical Society's presentation of Urinetown will premiere Friday night in Elba. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. Check out the production's Web site to find out where to get yours. Showtimes are at 8:00pm Friday and Saturday.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on

News roundup: Cold War veterans OK'ed for exemption

By Philip Anselmo

Check out WBTA for these and other stories:

  • Genesee County legislators approved tax exemption for Cold War veterans at the meeting last night. Exemptions were previously only granted for combat veterans.
  • Those same legislators clashed over how to handle the extended absence of a clerk from the treasurer's office who is out on medical leave. The treasurer's office wants a full-time replacement. Some on the Legislature suggested a temporary part-time position be created. Dan Fischer writes that "the amendment" was later "approved by a vote of 6-3," though it is not quite clear what the amendment signified. I assume it altered the request for a full-time staffer to part-time, but the language is a little unclear. Either way, it's a tricky situation, and I could understand the differing of opinions. Do you pay two people for the same job when one of those is unable to perform it? But at the same time, how can you not hire someone to do the work that is not being done?

Police Blotter: Wednesday, June 11

By Philip Anselmo

Police Blotter for Wednesday, June 11:

  • Genesee County sheriff's deputies charged a Batavia driver with a felony count of aggravated driving while intoxicated last night. Arron L. Zimblis, 44, of 114 Vine St. (Lower), Batavia, was driving on Putnam Road in the town of Bethany when deputies allege that he failed to stop for a stop sign, left the road and drove about 100 feet into a field before coming to a stop.
  • A Tennesee man was charged with second-degree aggravated harassment following an investigation by city police into an incidedent on January 31. Police were told that 33-year-old Jason T. McLain made several harassing phone calls that day. McLain posted his $200 bail and will return to City Court later this month.
  • Another city police investigation yielded an arrest. In this case, a Batavia man was alleged to have damaged a door and spit at another person at a home on Ross Street in May. Ronnie J. Sumeriski II, 26, of 101 Jackson St., was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief and second-degree harassment.
  • Twenty-two-year-old Alicia M. Warney, of Holley, faces a charge of fourth-degree grand larceny, city police said. Warney is accused of stealing several thousand dollars worth of property from a former roommate when Warney moved out of the apartment.

Note: All of the above arrests were reported in published releases from the departments.

Video: Charles Rand at the Museum

By Philip Anselmo

In Episode Two of our living history series at the Holland Land Office Museum, Pat Weissend tells us about a pair of Civil War medals on exhibit. Check it out:

We'll be back at the museum before long, so be sure to watch for the next episode!

News roundup: Gearing up for the Ramble Fest

By Philip Anselmo

From the Daily News (Wednesday):

  • Ramble Music & Arts Fest is less than a month off — July 5 in Jackson Square — and festival organizers are looking for more ways to boost the arts side of the daylong event. In addition to the music, the festival includes poetry, sidewalk chalk art and a history session. Check out Ramble's MySpace or the festival's Web site for more info.
  • City Council President told reporter Joanne Beck that the Council is conducting City Manager Jason Molino's annual review. Mallow felt that the city manager is "doing a good job," though everyone on Council will be able to give his or her input. Mallow would not say whether the executive session held after the Council meeting Monday was a part of that process. Molino did not attend the session.
  • A pair of articles by reporter Tom Rivers look into the disparate industries of manure and maple. Both make for interesting reads.
  • A full-page article on A-8 previews the Paolo Busti Cultual Foundation of Genesee County's 24th Annual Scholarship Award Night, which starts at 6:00pm June 25 at Terry Hills Restaurant. A brief bio is included for each of the 12 high school seniors competing for scholarships. Check out the article for ticket information.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on

Some road closures near the College

By Philip Anselmo

Reports have come in this morning that county fire crews are containing a gas leak at a home near Genesee Community College. A representative at the Genesee County Sheriff's Office confirmed the reports.

Drivers should be aware that some stretches of the roads around the intersection of Assemblyman R. Stephen Hawley Drive and Batavia-Stafford Townline Road will be temporarily closed while crews resolve the situation.

No word yet on how long the road closures will last, but if you're heading that way this morning drive cautiously and expect detours.

Police Blotter: Tuesday, June 10

By Philip Anselmo

Police Blotter for Tuesday, June 10:

  • Larry R. Brewer, 42, of 117 1/2 Liberty St., Batavia, was arrested on a bench warrant for second-degree menacing yesterday afternoon, city police said. At the time of arrest, Brewer was also charged with third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He was sent to Genesee County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail.
  • Christopher M. Dilaura, 28, of 34 Cedar St., Batavia, was charged with violating and order of protection and sent to jail in lieu of $1,000 bail, city police said.
  • Raymond L. Leach, Jr., 51, of 29 Montclair Ave., Batavia, was charged with second-degree aggravated harassment, Genesee County sheriff's deputies said. Deputies were told that Leach made a threatening phone call.

Note: All of the above arrests were taken from published releases from the departments.

Video: Carson & Barnes Circus

By Philip Anselmo

Please enjoy our tour around the big top... and the midway, and the petting zoo and everywhere else at the circus as the crews of Carson & Barnes got ready for the big show going on right now over at the Genesee County Fairgrounds.

News roundup: Notre Dame baseball heads to state finals

By Philip Anselmo

From the Daily News (Tuesday):

  • Notre Dame's Fighting Irish downed Pine Valley in the Class D Regionals 7-3 yesterday to advance to the state semifinals in Binghamton Saturday. It's the first time in the team's history that they made it to the final four. The Fighting Irish will face either Section 9 champion Chapel Field or Section 8 champion Southtown Christian. Check out the great article by reporter Brian Hillabush for all the details of the historic win.
  • Reporter Joanne Beck has a pair of articles on the new chief of police and last night's City Council meeting. Both stories appeared on The Batavian yesterday. (Police Chief Randy Baker had a couple minutes to field a few quick questions from the media between Council meetings last night. We'll be sitting down to get more in depth with the new chief early next week, so check back for that.)
  • Carson & Barnes Circus pulled into town this morning and started setting up the big top, feeding the animals, and getting everything else in gear. Reporter Scott DeSmit was there for a preview of the show. Check back with The Batavian later this afternoon for a guided video tour courtesy of Papa D Clown.
  • Batavia senior Mike Spiotta was honored as the Monroe County Golf League Player of the Year.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on

Photos: St. Joe's Parade

By Philip Anselmo

Thank you to an anonymous friend who sent us this link to a page of photographs taken at St. Joe's Parade this past weekend. We were unable to make it to the festivities, so we're grateful that someone else took the initiative to document the occasion and get us involved in sharing the experience.

In fact, this is a perfect example of how the community can help make its own news. We're here to get the ball rolling, but this project we call The Batavian really works best with your participation.

I've tacked up a couple photos to the post here. For now, you can see the rest at the photographer's Flickr site. Hopefully, we'll get all of the photos loaded into our own account so you can access them with a simple click of the Photos button up near the top of the page.

If you have some photos of Batavia that you would like to share with your fellow residents, please don't hesitate to drop us a line. As always, I can be reached at philip (at) thebatavian (dot) com.

Batavia-based National Guard platoon gets support from school kids in Monroe County

By Philip Anselmo

Gates-Chili's Neil Armstrong Elementary School adopted the 2nd Platoon of the Army National Guard, a Batavia-based crew of 43 that is currently stationed in Afghanistan.

Gates-Chili Post reporter Amy Cavalier wrote about just what such an adoption entails.

Neil Armstrong students have taken up collections and sent at least 17 boxes to the troops overseas. Cards, snack packages, books, magazines, and even Thanksgiving place mats, among other items, have helped the platoon deal with war.

But it wasn't all one sided.

In return for their kindness and support, 1st Lt. Andy Kirchhof kept the students informed through e-mails, pictures and even a framed flag that reads, “This flag was flown with pride in a combat zone at Fire Base Morales-Frasier Afghanistan.”

Three platoon members visited the school in September before being deployed, and several weeks ago, Kirchhof got to come home on leave for two weeks. The Brockport native made a point to visit Neil Armstrong to thank the students for all their support and to answer any questions they had.

Check out these links for a photo slide show, the full article from the Gates-Chili Post and some excerpts from soldier's letters to the students at Neil Armstrong:

Batavia police busy Monday

By Philip Anselmo

City of Batavia police issued three reports of arrests this morning.

  • Richard J. Zawicki, 30, of 145 Hutchins St., Batavia, was charged with endangering the welfare of a child yesterday morning. According to the report, Zawicki allegedly got into an argument with a child that "escalated into a physical confrontation."
  • Tara L. Hall, 29, of 11 S. Lyon St., Batavia was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and second-degree offering a false instrument for filing yesterday morning. Hall allegedly gave police a false statement following an investigation in accident.
  • Willie J. Thomas, 32, of 5 Raymond Ave., Batavia, was charged with forcible touching last night following a police investigation into reports that Thomas had inappropriately touched "a female acquaintance" Sunday. Thomas was sent to Genesee County Jail in lieu of $1,000 bail.

City Council: Overdrive

By Philip Anselmo

City Council swept through its business and conference meetings tonight, getting a public hearing, a handful of unanimous votes, a pair of public comments and a query about surplus city-owned properties finished in less than an hour — definitely less time, that is, than it took me to write or you to read this sentence.

All of the agenda items were passed with little comment or dispute, including a $4 million contract for the Walnut Street reconstruction and an amendment to increase parking fines from $25 to $50 if the fine is not paid within ten days. For more details on either of these, see our earlier post in advance of the meeting.

Councilman Tim Buckley used the Walnut Street project as a chance to ask if the city could require contractors to employ local workers for such large-scale public works endeavors. City Attorney George VanNess said that he didn't believe so, but he would have to research it to be absolutely sure.

Things turned defensive for a few Council members as the meeting rolled right on:

First, city resident John Roach took the microphone to rail against a Councilman for calling "a member of city staff" into his ward to look at "something" without first discussing the issue with the full council and "wasting" a half-hour of that staffer's time. Roach did not mention anyone by name and was purposefully vague about the specifics, aiming his attack more at the perceived infraction rather than the individual. Councilman Sam Barone gave an answer as if he were that Councilman in question. Barone felt he had done nothing wrong, and said he has done it before. Isn't it every citizen's right to contact the city code enforcer, for example, if they think a code is in violation? he asked.

"As a citizen in Batavia, I have the right to contact city staff in Batavia," said Barone. "I have been doing this, and as far as I know, it's not a problem."

Council President Charlie Mallow wasn't sure that at the very least the city manager should be notified before a Council member seeks information or services from city staff. He said they could take up the issue at the next conference meeting, scheduled for June 23. (I look forward to the discussion, because I don't really know what our rights are as citizerns to communicate with our local government staffers.)

Later, when Councilman Bob Bialkowski took a few minutes during the conference meeting to ask if the city could auction off its surplus properties, Councilwoman Kathy Briggs got peeved as she took it to be a personal attack on City Manager Jason Molino, who was already looking into how the city should handle its surplus properties. Council had already given him six months to research it, and if they wanted him to consider auctioning off the properties, she said, they "should have told him months ago."

"Let's just let him do his work," she said. "We gave him a task. He's got until August first."

Mallow said it was disrespectful to bring up the issue to Jason at the meeting rather than just contacting him in private with such questions.

"I wish there was more communication with the city manager," he said. "I wish people would just give him a phone call."

Council went immediately into executive session, so I was not able to find out more about the surplus properties issue. But I do have a few questions that I will try to get answered Tuesday. Namely: why Bialkowski wanted to discuss it at that meeting, what exactly the city manager is researching and why Briggs and Mallow felt that such questions at the meeting were out of place.

Police Blotter: Friday, June 6 to Sunday, June 8

By Philip Anselmo


  • 1:08am, 2 Fisher Park (Apt: Upper), trespass
  • 8:12am, 301 North St., criminal tampering
  • 8:27am, West Main Street, accident
  • 1:36pm, 1 Kingsbury Ave., harassment
  • 10:21pm, 10 W. Main St., harassment


  • 4:20am, 131 Summit St., criminal mischief
  • 11:51am, 577 E. Main St., larceny
  • 12:07pm, West Main Street, accident
  • 2:07pm, 419 W. Main St., larceny
  • 4:08pm, Washington Avenue, accident
  • 5:25pm, 6 Lewis Place, trespass
  • 8:50pm, 10 Fisher Park, assault


  • 3:35am, East Main Street, accident
  • 9:36am, East Avenue, accident
  • 9:59am, 23 Holland Ave., larceny
  • 12:51pm, 278 Bank St., trespass
  • 3:50pm, 50 Chandler Ave., larceny
  • 7:36pm, 27 Central Ave., harassment

(Received in a fax from the police department): Cynthia S. Hopkins, 25, of Silver Lake, was charged with driving while intoxicated early Sunday, city police said. Hopkins allegedly hit another vehicle at East Main and Swan streets and left the scene. She was also ticketed with failure to yield right of way and leaving the scene.

Note: We don't include noise complaints, domestic disputes and routine police business.

County Legislature will meet Wednesday

By Philip Anselmo

The Genesee County Legislature will meet at 7:00pm Wednesday at the Old County Courthouse, 7 Main St. On the agenda:

  • Granting property tax exemption to Cold War Veterans.
  • Amendments to Health Department grants.
  • Routine contract renewals and budget transfers.

The regular meeting will be preceded by a public hearing on the redesignation of some Empire Zone areas in Genesee County. Prior to both sessions, the legislature will discuss the proposed County Health and Wellness Plan at 6:00pm.

News roundup: Richmond promotes literacy

By Philip Anselmo

From the Daily News (Monday):

  • Richmond Memorial Library has about finished mounting eleven banners on schools, shops and organizations around Batavia. The 9-by-12-foot posters depict blown-up illustrations intended to promote preschool literacy as part of the library's Giving Reading Opportunities program. Check out the article on page A-3 for a full list of sites.
  • Seventy-three years after the Cornell Women's Club of Batavia held its first meeting, it held its last this past weekend. Part social club, part unofficial recruiters for Cornell University, the Women's Club was established on December 15, 1934. Member MaryAnne Sovocool told reporter Joanne Beck: "We may not be meeting together, but we'll never end. We'll be in the meeting room in heaven."
  • Beck also attended the Notre Dame High School graduation ceremony Saturday. Her coverage can be found on the front page.
  • Byron-Bergen student Trent Jeffords got a perfect score and first place at the third annual Dancing Under the Stars at Stuart Steiner Theatre Saturday. His partner was Millie Tomidy, executive director of the Genesee County Mental Health Association. (If anyone got a video recording of the dance, please let us know, and we will post it here on the site for all to see.)
  • A story on page A-7 about Genesee Community College's summer forensic science camps was featured on The Batavian a few weeks ago. Follow the link for more information.
  • Notre Dame's Fighting Irish baseball pulled a come-from-behind victory over Northstar Christian Academy Saturday to advance to the Class D regionals. They will play "Section 6 champion Pine Valley in the Far West Regionals tonight in Jamestown," writes reporter Brian Hillabush.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on

Batavia has a new police chief

By Philip Anselmo

Longtime veteran of the city police force, Randy Baker, has been named the new chief of police. City Manager Jason Molino announced the appointment this morning.

Chief Baker is a 27 year veteran of the Batavia Police Department.  During his 27 year career with Batavia Police Department, he is credited as serving as a patrol officer (1981-1992), K-9 officer, youth detective (1992-2008) and patrol sergeant (2008) as well as being a member of the Emergency Response Team.

“I am very pleased with the selection process and the appointment of Randy Baker as Batavia’s new Police Chief, [said Molino]. We had a field of exceptional candidates for the position which made the final selection a very difficult decision. Chief Baker is an outstanding choice for the leader of our department. I have every confidence that Randy will quickly acclimate himself to his new responsibilities within the organization and continue his strong standing reputation for serving the needs of the community. He brings 27 years of Batavia history and community leadership, a characteristic that is invaluable. He will be a great addition to the management team, and I look forward to working with him in the future."

Molino went on to thank Lt. Eugene Jankowski who has served as acting chief since the retirement of former police chief Daryl Sehm in March.

Chief Baker lives in Oakfield with his wife, Kyle, and they have two children: Joshua, age 26 and Katie, age 23. His starting annual salary will be $75,192.

Baker will assume the position tomorrow, Tuesday. He could not be reached for comment today.

News roundup: Power outage over the weekend

By Philip Anselmo

Check out WBTA for this and other stories:

  • Parts of Alexander and Dodgeson roads in the town were without power during the morning hours Saturday. Genesee County sheriff's deputies told WBTA that National Grid was working on Route 98 at the city line at the time. There is no mention in the brief about whether National Grid expected delays or if the company had notified anyone of potential outages. Nor do we know how long residents were without power.

25 things that made Genesee County famous

By Howard B. Owens

The Holland Land Office Museum announced on its blog yesterday that on June 13, it will begin an "online exhibit" series of 25 things that made Genesee County famous.

For this online exhibit, a panel of 15 people spent six months sifting through 100s of things know world wide. It was the panel's job to come up with a list of 25 things that made Genesee County famous. Every week, until November 28, 2008 the Holland Land Office Museum will release another item.

Cool idea, and it's interesting that this physical museum has chosen the digital world to highlight such a potentially fascinating list of events, people and items.

Anybody want to guess what some of these 25 things might be?  Leave a comment.  (I'm guessing #1 is anti-masonry and the Morgan Affair. Joseph Mancuso and the business incubator have to be pretty high up there, too.)

Thom Beers says he grew up in 'blue collar world'

By Howard B. Owens

Quote from Thom Beers about growing up in Batavia:

"Somebody taught me a long time ago, be true to who you are," Beers said by phone this week from Long Beach, Calif., where he and a crew filmed a bridge painter for NBC's "America's Toughest Jobs," another Beers production. "I grew up in a blue-collar world."

In his hometown of Batavia, N.Y., just east of Buffalo, his heroes were his uncles, Nick, a pizza maker, and Rocky, a mechanic, "salt-of-the-earth guys. Guys who told the truth, went to work every day and took care of their families. It's not that I saw an opening for a grand experiment. This is what I know."

UPDATE: Here's another story about Beers -- Life is never borig.

Top Items on Batavia's List

The City of Batavia is accepting applications for a Full-time Water Treatment Plant Operator/Trainee (Salary $23.65/hr.) This is a trainee position involving responsibility for learning the duties and routines in the operation and maintenance of a water treatment plant.  The work is performed under the immediate supervision of a qualified operator. Does on-the-job training to become qualified as an operator of a water treatment plant. Does related work as required. Applicant must be a graduate of a senior high school or possess a New York State high school equivalency diploma. Please submit a completed Civil Service Application to Human Resources, One Batavia City Centre, Batavia, NY 14020 or Background check, psychological assessment, physical and drug testing are required. Candidate must become a resident of Genesee County or any adjacent town to the County of Genesee within 6 months of the date of conclusion of the probationary period for the City of Batavia. EEO. Applications can be found at
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